|A Sound of Thunder (2005)
Starring: Edward Burns, Ben Kingsley, Catherine McCormack
Director: Peter Hyams
ALSO! Check out where it ranked in our 2005 Year in Review.
“A Sound of Thunder” is a failure, but a noble one. Based on the Ray Bradbury story that serves as the origin of the expression about a butterfly flapping its wings on one side of the world, causing a chain of events that leads to a hurricane on the other side, you have to give them credit for trying to make something heady. The problem is that they ended up making something cheap and heady, and in the process made one of the most fake-looking movies to come down the pipe since CGI was invented.
Set in the year 2055, Dr. Travis Ryer (Edward Burns) is an employee of Time Safari, Inc., a company that gives rich thrill-seekers the opportunity to go hunting for prehistoric game. The operation is run by Charles Hatton (Ben Kingsley), a rich wacko with a hilarious Pompadour. The rules of traveling through time are as clear as the rules of Fight Club. Do not go off the path (it is unclear how this path exists, but it does), do not leave anything behind, and do not take anything with you. This last rule is inadvertently violated on a glitch-filled trip, in the form of one dead butterfly. Before long, the crew, as well as the rest of the world, begins to experience “time waves,” where the repercussions of that dead butterfly drastically change the present. Ryer teams up with Sonia Rand (Catherine McCormack), the inventor-turned-outspoken opponent of the time travel transport, to go back and change the event that is about to eradicate mankind altogether.
As you can see, pretty heady stuff. And for the first 45 minutes, it’s pleasant and interesting enough, watching the time waves unveil the evolutions in plant life, then primate life, then water life. As things go dark, and the plant world has all but taken over the present, things just get silly. Well, let’s clarify that: the filmmakers’ attempts to make a slick, modern sci-fi adventure are what is truly silly about the movie, with some painfully bad blue screen shots, not to mention bullet cam shots that would make the Wachowski brothers crawl under a rock. The climax also has a gaping flaw in its logic that cannot go unnoticed. Another small gripe is their vision of the futuristic Chicago, which doesn’t look anywhere near as cool as it does in “Batman Begins.” There’s still a zoo, but it’s called the Chicago City Zoo. Maybe Lincoln Park was wiped out in a previous, undetected time wave?
There are movies out there that deal with the issue of time travel far, far better than this. If you must see a time travel movie, check out “Somewhere in Time,” “Back to the Future” or its sequel, “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” or even “Timecop,” the 1994 Jean-Claude Van Damme film that, strangely enough, was directed by Peter Hyams, the man behind “A Sound of Thunder.” History, it appears, has taught him nothing.